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The Organization of Consumer Protection

Political Actors and Legal Framework

The relationship between companies and consumers is usually characterized by a power and information imbalance in favor of companies. Consumer law is supposed to balance out this structural asymmetry. However, while companies often have their own legal departments and high financial resources, consumers usually confront them as individual actors with limited legal knowledge and financial resources. For some years now, consumers have been increasingly solidarizing and collectivizing in order to create a countervailing power and assert their interests and rights against corporate actors.

In relation to this new development, it examines which processes of organization take place in the mobilization of consumers. A special focus is on the role of gender and other dimensions of social inequality. This intersectional perspective is further supplemented by the consideration of transnationality.  The question of organization will be dealt with by means of two cases. On the one hand, it is viewed in the context of the reduction in VAT on hygiene products for menstruating persons. On the other hand, the introduction of the model declaratory action in relation to the emissions scandal is in focus.

Methodologically, both cases are based on a mixed methods approach. First, the (1) legal context of consumer protection is broken down analytically. Next  (2),  a political claims analysis is carried out in order to obtain an overview of the actors involved, areas of conflict and claims - in the sense of statements, decisions and actions. With this knowledge  (3), expert interviews are then conducted in order to deepen the gained knowledge. Finally (4), a mapping takes place in order to trace the processes of the organization.

The subproject "The Organization of Consumer Protection" thus contributes to a better understanding of the connections between law and organizations, which connections have by now received too little attention in the sociology of law and organization. Furthermore, it enhances the further development of both the debate of gender organization and of the relation between law and gender in general.